Gaming disorder now a disease according to WHO

Gaming Addiction Is Now An Official Mental Health Disorder

It's not uncommon for people to get addicted to games. Any form of addiction develops as a coping mechanism against stress, anxiety and depression, and gamers have to make sure they don't fall into the category of gaming becoming an addiction that takes over their life.

It was harmless fun, and it's easy to argue that it still is, but the World Health Organization (WHO) now believes that gaming can actually become an addiction. Although the overall prevalence of this condition is "very low", the WHO hopes that including it in its list of mental health conditions will raise awareness regarding the issue and ensure that people suffering from it receive adequate help. Did you play a few matches of Fortnite and put the dishes off until tomorrow?

Some clinicians and families hope that with more official recognition of gaming disorder will come easier access to help, like insurance coverage and treatment. Sleep, school, work and relationships all fall by the wayside.

In addition, ICD is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD coding as well as national health program managers, data collection specialists and others tracking progress in global health and determine the allocation of health resources.

The psychological community has been debating whether gaming is addictive enough to be described as a disorder for some time. A diagnosis of gaming disorder, then, means that a "persistent or recurrent" behaviour pattern of "sufficient severity" has emerged, according to the ICD. Is gaming one of these addictive behaviors?

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. People don't necessarily have to quit gaming altogether, but they do need to learn to better manage it with parameters, like only gaming with friends during select times during the day vs. doing it at night alone in their room.

Games are often created to compel people to keep playing and in some cases, to keep spending money.

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Jen MacLean is the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). Even some psychologists consider gaming as a stress buster.

On the positive side, research has shown that game playing can relieve stress, improve problem-solving abilities, and enhance traits like eye-hand coordination. "So at what point do we expect a child to have control of themselves around technology?"

Yet people can struggle to find a healthy balance with gaming.

There are real studies - most of those have been taken into consideration by the World Health Organization, we believe - that substance addictions and behavioral addictions share the a lot of same brain activities.

As part of that process a draft for a "gaming disorder" has been written up to be included in the new International Classification of Diseases (ICD) manual - which hasn't had a new version since 1992 - but video game makers are not happy about the process. That allows for a unified way of identifying illnesses and keeping track of how common certain diagnoses are. But many doctors and insurance companies do rely on the World Health Organization designations. But in the meantime, enjoy your gaming responsibly.

The above story is based on a report by Business Insider.

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